While the company is introducing several brand-new servers as part of its next-generation office-productivity family, there is no comprehensive family of server offerings akin to the one that company insiders, testers and customers had been expecting.
Instead, Microsoft has opted to roll up into a single new server, christened "Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007," several server offerings that many company watchers expected to launch as stand-alone products.
New to the Office 2007 server line up will be the Office Forms Server 2007, an electronic-forms offering designed to complement InfoPath; Office Groove Server 2007, a collaboration server based on the technology Microsoft acquired when it bought Groove Technology last year; and Office Project Portfolio Server 2007, a complement to Microsoft Project Server that is based on the UMT technology Microsoft acquired last year.
But the big kahuna on the Office Server 2007 side is Office SharePoint Portal Server 2007.
That offering will combine Microsofts current Content Management Server, SharePoint Portal Server and what was expected to debut as a standalone Excel Server into a single product.
Until quite recently, Microsoft was using the name "Office Server" to refer to Office SharePoint Portal Server 2007, company officials acknowledged.
SharePoint Portal Server 2007 will act as a backend for a variety of new client-based Office services.
It also will incorporate a variety of workflow engines, designed to mesh with Windows Workflow Foundation, the next-generation Windows workflow technology that Microsoft is baking into Windows Vista, Longhorn Server and other future Windows releases.
Its unclear when Microsoft decided against releasing a number of different Office Server SKUs.
In 2004, sources close to Microsoft said the company was contemplating a whole family of new Office servers, including an InfoPath Server, Excel Server and possibly a Visio server to complement the desktop suite code-named Office 12 that is now known as Office 2007. Partners close to the company confirmed that Microsoft was readying something called the "Excel Calculation Server."
At the Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting in July 2005, Microsoft execs said the company was working on "new server products that some people havent even written rumors about yet."
In September, Microsoft demonstrated at the Professional Developers Conference potential Office Server scenarios, including one via which "Excel Services" on a client could access information stored on a SharePoint-based server. But company officials steadfastly declined to talk packaging plans.
When asked why Microsoft decided against releasing a standalone Excel server, the same way that it opted to deliver an electronic-forms server, a spokesperson said: "We looked at a lot of capabilities, including server-based spreadsheet publishing and business insight scenarios. Excel Server was an internal reference or code-name, but in the 2007 Office system product lineup, these capabilities appear as part of Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Excel Services."